Blocking single enzyme could shut down bowel cancer growth

In collaboration with the Press Association

Blocking the action of a single enzyme inside bowel cancer cells could stop them from growing, new laboratory research suggests.

The enzyme, known as aldose reductase, is critical in the chain of reactions which encourages cancer cell growth.

"By inhibiting aldose reductase we were able to completely stop the further growth of colorectal cancer tumour cells," said senior author professor Satish Srivastava, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas.

The researchers pointed out that a drug that targeted aldose reductase had recently been approved to treat diabetics in Japan.

This raises the possibility that, if proven to be effective against bowel cancer, an aldose reductase blocker could reach cancer patients quicker than the usual ten - 15 years it takes to develop new drugs.

Henry Scowcroft, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said the result was a promising start.

"It is always good to hear of advances like this. The identification of a potential new drug target is the very beginning of the long process of developing a new cancer treatment. We await further developments with interest."

The study was conducted at the University of Texas and published in the journal Cancer Research.